Monday, May 30, 2011

Switchback and a cold Night.

First, this is a day late because it was a campout night in the middle of no where. No cell and no verizon services. Sorry everyone I couldn't let you know I was safe. Of course, 5 miles into today's ride I met up with someone new, Aaron and Aleena. They are nice young couple from Arizona, Aaron graduated from University of Illinois and grew up just north og Bloomington IL. Aaron rode this route east to west 4 years ago and now he and his wife Aleena are going the other direction. Since we both were needing to camp out ( or climb 4500 feet on 2 mountains and then ride 110 miles), we stuck together today and camped out before headed to Silver City NM tomorrow. Tonight we camped along the road in a National Park service camp ground about 1/2 mile from the New Mexico border on state road 78.

Today was a double climb day. After 15 or so miles it was uphill for about an hour and a half and 1,500 feet. That one was fairly flat slow steady climb. Then there's always a reward. This time it was a 6 mile or so 6-7% grade ( pretty steep ). Got it up to 38 MPH I think in there somewhere before we got to Three Way AZ. Quick 20 minute snack break and refill on water and it was off to a 2,500 foot climb over 14 miles or so. This was an insane climb that started like the first one of the day and then it was a dive into a canyon on a very winding road. At the bottom was the first switchback that basically turned us around 180 degrees and took us up the side of the mountain. I walked all that one. Another 180 degree turn and we were on a plateau for 2 miles or so. Stopped at a small church that had a nice gazebo, had another snack and rest and then off to the 1,300 foot climb in 4 miles. The pictures pretty much tell the story of winding around back and forth, back and forth. It was a little riding and a little walking, but an hour or so later we hit the top.

Now the crazy part is that on the west side of the mountain its all desert and barren rock for the most part. But when we hit the top, we went right into 80-100 foot tall pine trees and forrest. Very fun winding downhill ride for 5 miles to the campsite and then decided to call it a day. Just the way the maps and towns setup is why we just called it an early day. But I'll be very fortunate to have a clear western sky and whistling wind through the pine trees tonight.

(ok here's the day after addendum).... IT WAS COLD at 6,000 feet. I think it was in the 40's. For the most part I was warm enough, just totally uncomfortable. Then getting up out of the tent, and getting going was worse. Downhill cold ride to start off wakes you up. 1 more a morning lecture from a 60 year old in his Corvette "you should be careful on these roads, the drivers don't expect to see you. I go 100MPH and somethings coming at me and you're there, could be bad". John - "Thanks. 1) did you know this is a national bike route and there are always bikers on this road?". Covertte guy -"I never see any bikers and I go through here every week". John - "Well why don't you slow the f' down on these winding mountain roads?" (that's what I wanted to say, but remembered everyone out here may just shoot you).

Stats - 53.6 miles (629)
Calories - 3554 ( 35366 )
Time - 5:12 (50:35)
Total Climb - 4711 ( 24,603 ft )

Fix Flat #1 after not paying attention to bike for 2 days, loading it all up and checking out of hotel so you can fix it in the parking lot... check.

Pick up a new wolf pack for the journey and camp out.... check.

Climb, enjoy the beauty, repeat repeat repeat.... check.

Puke your guts out after climbing 4711 feet... check

Call it a day because there's now where else to camp.... check.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Nothing but rest today

Slept in til 7:00.
Got some work done for a few hours.
Watched the Indy 500 live on ABC. (awesome race this year!!)
Went to the movie to see Hangover 2 ( funny!!)
Stocked up for camping night at Walmart ( Cliff bars, 8 peanut butter sandwiches,water)
Watched the end of NASCAR race ( another great race ending ).
Man it was too bad both the National Guard cars didn't win today on the last laps!

Yesterday I ran into a couple of Marines at a C-store and they asked me what I was doing. After a very brief "headed east as far as I can response", they said "Wow that's cool, you're pretty awesome". It was pretty easy to reply, "No, lets keep this in perspective, I'm just riding a bike. You and all the other people in the armed forces are the ones that adjectives like awesome and hero should be reserved for".

So today and tomorrow, I find myself remembering and being thankful to all the people who've served over the years. I personally couldn't do what all those people have done, but I get to enjoy the USA the way I am for this bike trip as well as every other day I'm been around.


Stats - 0 (576)
Calories - 0 ( 31,812 )
Time - 0 (45:24)
Total Climb - 0 ( 19,892 ft )

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dear AZ Dept. of Transportation

Dear ADOT,

Please let me start with your state is beautiful. You've done a spectacular job with the mountains and desert and the cacti. Enough of the niceties though.

1) Thought I told you I was coming through. Please don't tar 25 miles of the road while I'm here. It's just messy and hot and smells. Seriously didn't need that today.

2) When there's 3 feet between the white line and the guard rail, do we really need a 2 foot rumble strip? I think it's going to be too late for the drunkards I keep seeing your warning signs for along the road, they will probably hit the rail. Not good for us bikers.

3) I bet you really do love to blow sh*t up right? So come on use more dynamite and make these damn roads a bit more flat. 30 miles of up and down just gets old and tiring.

4) Probably a different department, but turn the heat down too if you can. Maybe try a little rain to spruce this place up some too.

John White

P.S. - You are doing so much better than SPAC in NY. I've seen no locked gates around here after the concert.

Stats - 75.8 miles (576)
Calories - 3930 ( 31,812 )
Time - 5:18 (45:24)
Total Climb - 1696 ( 19,892 ft )

OK up at 5:30, got 4 hours of work in that was long over due and then off for a 75 miler from Globe AZ to Safford AZ ( I know during the heat of the day). I'm going to be adjusting that from now on. Safford's a pretty good size town, there's a Walmart and a movie theater, so I busted it one more day so I can take Sunday off. Going to see Hangover 2 tomorrow and then Walmart to stock up. New episode of Man v. Wild the next 4-5 days of riding. Going to need to camp out and take enough food for a couple nights.

It was 20 miles or so down hill and good speeds. Passed an Indian Casino outside Globe and passed a lady walking along the road with what looked like all her belongings. Then it was about 30 miles of up and down. OK the maps I have are AWESOME, but... there could be some changes. The shades of green to indicate elevations should be shades of tan and the blue stream and river indicators need to just be dry ( what ever color that is). It's messing with my head thinking I'm going to see lush land but it's really the next 30 miles of up and down, up and down. Desert Dips today, 1/2 mile to a mile long of race down race up.

Then I hit the Gila River, there was actually water in this river and quite a bit of green. The last 25 miles actually started getting a little lush and started seeing actual trees. Man it got though, sure glad the wind forecast was pretty much on. Mostly right behind me but swirled into side winds on occasion. Stopped in Pima AZ for a 44 oz chocolate shake from the Taylor Freeze. They had about 15 home made signs along the road starting 3 miles out so I had to reward them for their creativity and to me their landing lights. Just about puked the rest of the way to Safford, 44 oz was a bit much.

Anyway safe in Safford AZ after 8 days of riding. Having a great time and starting to get confidence about the trip and my legs holding out. But I've got about 10,000 vertical feet of climbing to do to get over the Rockies this week.


Yeah I know there's no lines, it's obvious you covered them with tar!!

Too many of these out here. What the hell do people hit, there's nothing here to hit.

Dry river bed again. The maps need to be black instead of blue for these.

I was going to stay here tonight for Karaoke.

Shade along the road, took 60 miles, but finally got it.


A gorgeous Western sunset.

Friday, May 27, 2011

88 year old Guy ( that's his name)

I'll get to Guy in just a bit, he was later in the day, but the highlight of the day.

Kicked off the day around 6:00 and had my first mechanical issue to figure out. 2 minutes fix, but only after 20 minutes of unloading gear and pondering the situation. Front Derailleur had loosened up and needed twisted back in line and a bolt tightend back down. Easy fix for the pro, the novice just needed a little more time to problem solve it.

Slowed me enough so that 10 minutes later, Brandon was there to meet up. Seemed like a great idea, I wasn't too sure how the day was going to go. Brandon is 24, laid off from his San Diego job and riding back home to Ohio. He'd gotten to Phoenix and had taken a month off but was starting back up today on his brand new Walmart "hybrid" bike. Looked like the right bike to use and had a trailer behind it for gear and 10lbs of back pack. Tennis shoes, no socks, swim suit and I'm sure the bike wasn't fitted well. 150lbs wet maybe, no money, just desire and food stamps. Actually it pepped me up a little cause I wasn't really looking forward to the ride. That was good for 25 miles or so and until the first big climb. I thought he was going to overheat ( may have been the monster drinks and the "suedo c-store pot" he was smoking).

For me, I learned how to hitchhike today. I actually stuck my thumb out and got us a ride in the back of a pick up truck for 7 miles. The sucky part was we were almost to the top of the hill and had a coast down to town. What a great guy ( not Guy, he's later), didn't take any cash, just said your welcome, I'd hope someone would help me too.

Cooled down at the town rest area, grabbed some lunch and then John White went into action hunting for the next ride up the 11 mile 1500 foot climb I did NOT want to do. Carefully watching trucks coming into the rest area and the direction they were headed ( this wasn't an interstate rest area so people came in from both directions). Struck out 4 times!! No problem, lets meander over to the gas station, c-store. James out back smoking. John "Hey you know any one with a truck that would want $20"?. James - "Nope, but ask any one around here we're all pretty nice people". John-"cool, I'll grab some water inside and keep looking". Inside checking out and James is back in. Liar, he did know someone, the owner of the store standing next to me. It's 88 year old Guy. Lady behind the counter "Go on Guy, go home and get your pickup truck and help these gentleman out!".

Guy-"OK, I'll be right back". Turns out Guy was 88 years old, moved to town and bought the gas station in 1960! Lived in Owensburg KY on tobacco farm growing up. Lost his dad one day on an oil rig accident (got pulled out of school at 10:41 with that news). Came into Superior AZ on the old road ( which he pointed out along the ride up to the top, we stopped 3 times as part of the guided tour). And here's the best part. Superior and Miami AZ is separated by 17 miles of a gorgeous, treacherous pass, including a tunnel through the mountain. He showed us the mule train trail that was used in the 50's and 60's to truck prostitutes ( Guy used the "W" word, also said some of them were "hot" ) between the 2 mining towns. Payday was every other Friday, alternating between the towns. So the prostitutes would ride back and forth every Thursday on mules to help the gentlemen out of their earnings, and pants, if I've interpreted this story correctly.

Anyway, it was a Happy Trail today but tough days ahead, I may actually have to camp here soon.

Brandon takes over the lead so I can catch a breath ( open that image up to check out his gear, I don't know how he'll make it ).

That's a long 5 mile climb 1500 feet.

Guy and Brandon (I'm in a Truck!)

Tunnel, not fun on a bike, heavy weekend truck, boat and car traffic.

The Downhill fun.

Spectacular Mountains.

Me and my 3 man wolf pack.

Stats - 68.7 miles (500)
Calories - 3781 ( 27,882 )
Time - 4:47 (40:06)
Total Climb - 4396 ( 18,196 ft )

Come on now, hit the the "View Details" link to check out the 65 mile an hour speed. anything under 35 was me going down hill.

Stop Go, Stop Go, Stop Go

Metro Phoenix is about 70 miles long. I pretty much went tip to tip today (just about 15 of the last ones tomorrow morning to go). Except for a 9 mile bike path, it was all city street riding, and 25 MPH winds, and I did it 11AM-5:30PM (yep in the hottest part of the day). Actually that was the easy part. My 11 mile an hour speeds didn't really line up with the traffic light flow, so it was stop and go all day long, probably every other major intersection was a stop. There's a lot of space in this part of the US so they make big intersections and that means longer lights. Oh cool, watching the local weather, it was 100, but no where near the record high 112.

Anyway, I'm glad I made to the other side, it's pretty dangerous making sure no one turns right into you and no one coming off a side street comes into you. No close calls though. I'm kicking myself though, I had 2 great cheat opportunities, 1 was a train and the other a bus, I could have easily knocked of 10-20 miles and it didn't even dawn on me to do that. Tomorrow I pay for that with a 2,000 foot climb that's 15 miles longer than it needed to be.

Stats - 50.6 miles (431)
Calories - 2732 ( 24,101 )
Time - 4:16 (35:19)
Total Climb - 581 ( 13,800 ft )

Pretty much looked like this today.

9 mile canal ride.

A City "Dip" (as opposed to previously reported Desert Dip). Same affect, race down under the street and pedal hard to get up the other side. (SUCKS!!)

I could hear it saying "stop its too hot, put me away".

Little kid that passed me ( he's not gone 400 miles though!)

Person I PASSED. (true they were in a school zone I dis-obeyed, but it counts I beat them to the cross walk by a nose)

Sun Devil Stadium and the end of Map Set #1!!! ( for those of you in the pool, sorry change of venue and no pissing and moaning! Official Time May 26 4:13PM )

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Happy Anniversary Kelly!

First, thanks Kelly for 9 great married years together! We've had so much fun together and I can't wait for all the new fun things we'll get to do in year 10.

The reality is that these are long days just to get down the road. Started at 5:50 PST, rolled into hotel around 5:00. But, I had another rider roll up around mile 26. Ben and I didn't really ride along the rest of the day, just took turns passing each other. Ben...From Seattle, quit his job with the State run Salmon Fishery (sounded like getting salmon eggs and sperm together wasn't his thing anymore, seriously, he said it was a chore to get that to happen). So he started riding his mountain bike with trailer and 70 pounds of gear ( mine's 40 lb) down the West coast to San Diego and then started East to go live with his mom in Arlington VA.

So Ben rolled up and I said "can you watch my bike while I go and get some water, want anything?". Ben- "sure I'll take a Red Bull". I thought I saw him pop the top and drink it and we started riding but his pace was way not mine, so Adios it was. 5 minutes later Ben had stopped and as I'm rolling by Ben's mixing a Red Bull and Vodka into his water bottle. Nice as I rolled by and said "So that's how you do it?". Oh yeah, I walked out of the C-Store and he's smoking a cigarette! Guys already gone over 2500 miles and he ripped out another 85 with me today.

Here's no helmet Ben.

Nothing else really today. Just 2 long straight rides. The down hill was into the wind so even that was hard pedaling.

Stats - 88.3 miles (381)
Calories - 4370 ( 21,369 )
Time - 7:17 (31:03)
Total Climb - 1070 ( 13,219 ft )

Time to clean the lens!

28 miles of straight white lines.

Oops had to edit this one.

Saw a couple of these signs out here.

Reward for long 5 days. Sleeping in, having a good breakfast, getting caught up on some work and riding through to the other side of town tomorrow ( a short ride )

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Uphill to Salome AZ

Well that was a good long stretch, I had 4 good climbs before Phoenix and knocked 3 of them off today. First of all, Randy in Salome AZ owns the Westward Motel. He's totally renovated a 5 room hotel from the 1940's I think. He's sold out for the night, but said "come on over we'll figure something out". I'm sleeping in his airstream tonight. The place is awesome if you're ever here, I highly recommend it and he's already won awards from the AZ tourism board for his renovation. He's on his 14th Harley Davidson motorcycle. Also ran the lighthouse on a bird sanctuary between Hilton Head and Savannah GA, hope I get to see that. Anyway, thanks Randy!! Send Randy an email and thank him for taking care of me!!

You can see the elevation map was uphill, and a little break downhill, then repeat 2 more times. Two of those were on I-10 and actually all three were hard, but nothing like that first day. These are LONGGGG slow rising elevations. Had a little wind today keeping me going at a decent pace.

Quite a few good pictures today. Seriously, you're just going to have to deal with the pictures of me, it's just how I cope getting through the day and I'm only taking them the first half of the day when I'm happy.

One last observations. Lizards are actually a lot like squirrels. Had 2 of them jump out, cross half way and then ran back in front of me because they changed their mind. Also, they outrun me when I'm riding uphill.

Right now, I'm 2 days off form Phoenix for the weekend. Probably will do 55 miles tomorrow in the morning before noon to beat the heat and knock out that last climb and then 55 miles downhill into Tempe. Probably a couple days rest and check myself to see if I'm ready to tackle El Paso.

Stats - 63.1 miles (292)
Calories - 3494 ( 16,999 )
Time - 5:43 (23:46)
Total Climb - 2690 ( 12,149 ft )

Good Bye State #1

Hello AZ!!

What happens under an overpass, stays under the overpass! ( OK, its peeing )

Streching at the Rest area.

You can stop a cow, but you can't stop John White!

Climb 2 after a McD break to fix some code I broke before I left ( sorry Coverstar!! )

Lunch time in Brenda, AZ.

OK this is at Kalo Cafe where I got my shake today. Didn't know what Kalo was, but when I went to the bathroom, here's what appears to be Kalo the CLOWN!! Now, not sure I think I saw something about Kalo Mtns. and I see it's signed Binky, but I'm going with Kalo The Clown. This is for you Kelly ( and every other clown hater)

The Airstream I'm sleeping in tonight traveling the country.

Hanging the clothes out to dry, seriously it didn't take long at all!!

Randy is a ROCK STAR!! Literally, just told me about 14 years rigging. People, he saw the first semi used in any Rock Tour, the Rolling Stones Madison Square Garden. The badges ( on the wall behind his head) are Heart, Allman Brothers, Pink Floyd, Billy Joel, Ted Nuget Genesis, Jethro Tull, Moody Blues, Commodores, Kenny Rodgers, Dolly Pardon, Ratt, Madonna, Grateful Dead, David Bowie, Cameo, Police, and I'm MORE!.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Centruy!!

102 miles, but not because I wanted to. I really had to in order to get back into civilization with a hotel and food. First thanks wind, I really wouldn't have made it without the help 10 MPH in the morning and 25-30 in the afternoon mostly all behind me. Thanks Creean for the playlist, great songs and I did get to listen at the end of today to get me through.

Check the Satellite image of the map (after you hit "view details") or google maps ( El centro CA to Blythe CA ), it's a pretty good shot at 60 miles of nothingness in the middle of that ride. So rolled out at 6:10 to beat the heat, that was a good idea till 9:45 or so. I went from below sea level, through various crop lands and aqueduct systems, cattle yards bigger than you can even imagine, to dessert "shrubbery", through really amazing sand dunes, slow steady climbs, real dips ( more later ) , downhill ( with dips), border patrol, and then 25 miles of more crop lands to Blythe, CA.

So a real dip in the road is... a downhill and an uphill easy enough. Some are 300-400 yards long, some are 1/4 mile. Some are 10-30 foot drop, some are more like 100 ft. All are on 2 lane highway with nothing next to the white line. There are semis, and everyone here has a big pick-up truck. There are curves and dips sometimes just cut through some of the mountain. So.. the trick is 1) wait, listen for traffic, 2) when clear, ride as fast as possible down so you don't work too hard getting back up. 3) watch the mirror in case you didn't hear something right. 4) watch in front to make sure the timing is OK in case 2 cars do need to pass. 5) stop at the top, check yourself, drink and do it again. Probably 40 times and then you're through that part of the course. Toughest part of the day.

Stats - 102.36 miles (229)
Calories - 6005 ( 13505 )
Time - 7:17:07 (18:03)
Total Climb - 1893 ( 9459 ft )

Morning Artistic shot.

My nooner at the Glamis Saloon (lunch that is). She was nice.

Future Big Macs!! ( probably 3/4 mile long and 1/2 mile deep )

Self Portrait #1 today on the water supply.

That is the biggest sand trap you've ever seen.

Border Patrol---"Do you have any people in those bags?" John - "Feels like it" Border Patrol-- "(laughs) Go on through, you can use the shade down there if you need some".

There was no river and no signs of water.

82 miles, time for Ice Cream.

Crossing I-10. 2 more miles! Totally spent.